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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

the boston T party

i love boston.

correct that -- i love visiting boston. while there's no way i'd move away from the weather and the beaches of southern california, traveling to boston is a chance for me to get away and experience all the things that LA is sorely lacking. it's a city teeming with history! with culture! with seafood! and most notably, with a very efficient public transportation system!

last week, right after my younger daughter and i retrieved our bags from the baggage claim at logan, we headed outside to catch the silver line into the city. we each fed $15 into the ticket machine to buy a charlie ticket T-pass, which turned out to be the best purchase we made our entire trip. with it, we had unlimited 7-day access to the entire MBTA system, our magic carpet ride for the next six days.

within minutes of locating the airport terminal shuttle stop, we boarded the bus, and a little over half an hour later, including one quick transfer to the red line, we arrived at the subway (aka the T) station across the street from our hotel. no car rental lines, no traffic headaches, no exorbitant parking fees. and it was very eco-responsible.

i love it.

after checking into our room and freshening up, we hopped on the T once again, this time headed for my older daughter's apartment in cambridge one stop away. it was painless -- a five minute ride plus a ten minute walk.

if getting around LA could only be that easy!

unlike my previous trips to other cities like providence, philadelphia, and eugene where i was armed with printouts of studio maps and schedules, i arrived in boston with no specific yoga plans. all i knew is that for the six days i was going to be there, i was going to do some yoga (and i had optimistically packed enough gear for three classes). but exactly where and when, i didn't know.

so while my daughters were busy bonding with mario on a nintendo wii, i googled "cambridge yoga" and "boston yoga" to see what was out there. i eventually compiled a short list of options, keeping in mind that my top priority was to spend quality time with my daughters; i was going to work in the yoga only when there was a lull in our schedule.

in those six days, we spent time viewing the 4th of july fireworks on the charles river, shopping in harvard square and newbury street (no sales tax on clothing!), taking the ferry to and from salem, watching ocean's 13 at the multiplex, and making a much-needed trek to costco and ikea half an hour away (which required me to rent a car with lots of trunk space to carry all my daughter's purchases back to her place). despite that whirlwind of activity, i still managed to fit in my planned three classes! it's amazing how things just happened to work out.

all the yoga studios i ended up visiting were located within a few blocks of T stations in the cambridge area. which meant that it didn't take me more than fifteen minutes to get from my hotel room to the classroom. how convenient.

my first class - thursday, 9:30am.

baptiste power vinyasa yoga
2000 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140
(617) 661-YOGA

website: www.baronbaptiste.com
T stop: red line - porter square

Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga offers a different kind of yoga practice. It's based on intuition rather than tradition. If you think you need to go to a health club to be fit and beautiful, think again. If you think that you need to escape to a cave in the Himalayas to find the enlightenment that yoga promises, think again. Baptiste Vinyasa Yoga offers more than the familiar poses and breathing techniques; it offers a way to face life with a renewed personal strength.

i had specifically chosen to take this class because it was taught by coeli marsh, a lululemon boston ambassador with an impressive bio:

Coeli is a certified Master Baptiste yoga teacher. She has been teaching at the Baptiste Power Yoga Institute for the past five years, and she continues an on-going apprenticeship with Baron Baptiste. With this foundation of experience she in turn conducts trainings for other teachers and classroom assistants.
She has co-taught with Baron and regularly holds in-depth workshops for beginners on the Master Principles of Alignment, as well as the power of beginning a regular yoga practice. Coeli teaches with clarity, compassion and strength. Her classes help to unfold a powerful personal practice in others, as well as to awaken new perceptions.

while filling out the registration form, i found out that all new students receive a free class along with free mat and towel rental. since it wasn't mentioned anywhere on the website, it was a pleasant surprise. the money i saved pretty much covered the cost of my T-pass :)

i walked into the classroom, and the first thing i noticed were the large heaters.

i had forgotten that, unlike the power yoga here in LA (notably bryan kest's and mark blanchard's) where you internally generate your own heat, baptiste power yoga is taught in heated rooms. argh.

Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga is a challenging and flowing form of yoga that heals, strengthens, and detoxifies the body and mind. This practice, created by Baron Baptiste, consists of 53 set poses (asanas) that are linked together by connective momentum. This style of yoga is typically practiced in a heated room...

after taking a baptiste class in philly last year, you'd think i'd remember that the room temps would be almost bikram-like. at least i had the foresight to pick the spot right by the back door, which was opened on regular intervals to let in the outside air to cool down the room whenever it got too hot.

considering that it was a class taught in the middle of a weekday morning, the packed classroom proved how popular coeli's classes are. during the 90-minute class, she and her assistant roamed the room, adjusting students as necessary. the class turned out to be a challenging one for me, but only because i had a hard time dealing with the heat. by the time the class was over, i was drenched in sweat. unfortunately, since i didn't bring a change of clothing with me, i had to get back on the T, damp clothing and all. there were a few quizzical stares in my direction, but thankfully, my embarrassment only lasted for the three stops it took me to get back to the hotel.

my second class - thursday, 6:00pm.

Wellspace Yoga
585 Massachusetts Avenue, 4th floor, Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 547-0355
website: www.wellspace.com
T stop: red line - central square

At WELLSPACE Yoga we offer yoga classes that blend slow flowing sequences of poses with conscious breath and mindfulness. Led by Barbara Benagh, our teachers are among the most experienced in the Boston area. Classes are offered for beginner to advanced level and are led with hands on attention to both external and internal technique.

yes, it was my second class of the day. and like the class at baptiste yoga earlier that morning, i had selected the class solely on the teacher's reputation.

Barbara Benagh, a fixture on the Boston yoga scene since 1980, has practiced and taught yoga for nearly 35 years. She discovered yoga while living in England and began teaching there. She moved to Boston and opened The Yoga Studio on Beacon Hill in 1980. In 2005 Barbara moved The Yoga Studio to the Charles River Institute in Central Sq., Cambridge.
In addition to her local classes Barbara teaches yoga seminars throughout the US and internationally. She is a regular contributor of articles to Yoga Journal magazine. She has several audio CDs of live classes available as well as DVDs, the latest being Yoga for Beginners released by Body + Soul magazine and Yoga for Stress Relief that includes a discussion on meditation from the Dalai Lama.

from the moment barbara guided us through our first asana, i knew i was in the presence of a seasoned yoga instructor. unlike some other teachers who ramble on and on and essentially say nothing, she kept talking, yet everything she said made sense. she emphasized the importance of proper alignment. she shared tips on the best way to get into a pose. and she made sure we had ample time to absorb what she was teaching. it's only after i picked up a class schedule on my way out that i realized that i had just taken a level 3 class. that probably explains why many of the students in the class appeared to be advanced practitioners.

i was glad that it didn't turn out to be a strenuous class; my deciding to squeeze two classes into the same day was pushing it a bit, especially since i was supposed to be on vacation...

my third class - saturday, 10:30am.

Karma Yoga Studio
1120 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 547-9642
website: www.karmayogastudio.com
T stop: red line - harvard square

We deeply believe in giving individual attention to each practitioner. We love to answer all your questions, hear your ideas and concerns, and give consultations on your practice. We don't teach assembly-line McYoga here! We believe in the power of personal transformation and our teachers will help you achieve it.
We donate 2% of profits to environmental protection organizations.

my boston-based daughter had once mentioned that she had considered taking yoga classes at karma yoga because it offered many gentle classes and it was close to her apartment. that seemed like a good enough reason for me to visit the studio, if only to check if the classes were appropriate for a beginner like her. after scanning the schedule and discovering that the only class that i could fit in was the restorative physioyoga class on saturday morning, i came up with a great idea: i was going to get my kids to take the class with me! while daughter #1 was open to the idea (after all, it was her who mentioned the studio to me in the first place), daughter #2 was leery, but only because she had never taken a yoga class before. i managed to convince both of them that the class was nothing more than a gentle stretch class, so the three of us signed in for kim amlong's class that morning.

Kim Amlong has a Masters of Physical Therapy degree and practiced physical therapy for five years. She has been a devoted practitioner of yoga since 1997 and completed the Iyengar yoga teacher-training program with Patricia Walden. She assisted Patricia Walden in her classes for 2 and a half years and continues to study with her and Jesse Winder. Her teaching is an eclectic style that is rooted in proper body mechanics and anatomical alignment and draws an emphasis on safety and injury prevention.

i knew what a restorative class was, but physioyoga? turns out that the style was developed by karma yoga:

PhysioYoga is a yoga style founded on the commitment to the preservation of traditional Hatha Yoga and to the principle of ahimsa (non-harming). Additionally, drawing inspiration from the Dali Lama's work with the academic and research community, PhysioYoga believes that applying science to the practice of yoga is inspirational and enlightening. The tenets of PhysioYoga are student education, empowerment, and prevention of injury.

after reading that, it still wasn't clear to me what made physioyoga any different from any other style of hatha yoga. maybe by the end of class, i'd find out.

and i can't say that i did, because the poses were typical of the other restorative classes i'd taken elsewhere. unlike those other classes, though, there were no soothing head or foot massages nor aromatic oils. in fact, i was a bit annoyed that our teacher kept babbling away while we were supposed to be resting in savasana. since my daughters felt that all they did was rest, neither of my daughters was particularly enthused about the class, which was too bad. maybe the gentle class would have been a better option; at least they may have felt like they were getting some kind of exercise. ah, youth.

there was one class that i regretted not being able to take while i was in boston: david magone's class at exhale boston. not only was he another lulu ambassador, but his class was listed as one of the top 25 in the world by travel and leisure magazine:

Named Boston magazine’s best yoga teacher of 2006, David Magone (www.insideyoga.com) practices a style of his own invention: PranaVayu. An integration of Power yoga and Vinyasa flow, it breaks sequences down into accessible pieces. Magone, who currently teaches at Boston’s Sports Club L.A. and Exhale Spa, keeps the mood light and playful right up until the 15-minute meditation at the end of class.

but no matter how hard i tried, there was no way i could fit his sunday and monday classes into my schedule. hopefully, he'll still be around the next time i visit boston. and when that happens, i'll make sure i have my T-pass ready because, just like the other yoga studios i visited this trip, i can easily get to exhale, which is conveniently located by a T stop :)


Blogger Carla said...

It's too bad you didn't like Kim's class. She's an excellent teacher with a lot to impart. That's why I like her talking in class. If I want a silent savasana, I do it at home. Kim has taught me so much about how to keep my body young and healthy. THANK YOU, KIM! - Carla

2:25 AM  
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8:40 AM  

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